RMF Summary: Week of March 5 - 11, 2012

March 5
Today's 2 examples of digestion under way...
Rajiv Malhotra posts:
"Example 1
I wanted to say one thing more about Being Different: I am delighted that Sri Aurobindo is so frequently cited there, and find your work to be firmly in his tradition (in modern India, none is greater). ... I could not quite cognitively defend your (and Bhartrhari's, Abhinava's) thesis that (as Raja Rao put it to me once), "the essence of each thing is its [Sanskrit] name vibrating in the absolute."  On the other hand, as a meditator I perform that premise every day when I chant "Om."
Finally, I want to nominate the Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism (ARAS) to the Infinity Foundation for possible support of efforts to expand the representation of Indian images. ...ARAS is a Jungian instituton with roots in the Eranos conferences in the 1930s and after.  See aras.org if this is of interest.
Rajiv comment: Jung's Eranos conferences produced some of the greatest digestors on the past century – including Joseph Campbell, Eliade, Paul Tillich, etc. Now the above scholar who has practiced sadhana in Auroville is wanting funds from Infinity, to support work by his wife that would remap his mining of Sri Aurobindo for 25 years into western univeralism. He also told me with [pride] that his son is going for a phd under a prominent Indian scholar of religion in Florida, and how under her guidance all the dharma he learned will get "harmonized" with western thought. That scholar in Florida is well known for promoting sameness , digestion, Aryan theory, etc.  She is also popular at temples where she goes in sari with heavy jewelry and talks about the greatness of Hinduism. Hates me for calling her duplicity…

Example 2: Read the Patheos.com comment discussion on my book.... Read onereview by Brianne Donaldson...
See the comments after her review. These explain how she as head of dharma studies at a prominent university is in fact on a mining expedition to help further plagiarism. Her role in digestion is to promote whitehead who digested abhidharma Buddhism into his own repackaged versions, and to erase the dharmic sources. Ironically, she then uses Whitehead to criticize BD. Pls read and participate there."

Margaret posts:
"....I understand well how digestion works, thanks for your concrete examples and I am also reading your book  BD. I wonder who is the Florida scholar ....  Although India  is not my native land, I learn so much about how mental, universalism digestive scholarly colonization continues in mining expeditions of indigenous cultures" 

Jayakumar shares his response to Brianne at Patheos:
"... The reviewer Brianne Donaldson is commenting on a narrow portion of a several-hundred page book.

Winning and Dominating are important for the West.  Dharma is too subtle and is not encumbered by such needs.  Openness, friendliness, originality and expertise by dharma practitioners have been exploited in well-honed and subtle ways.  On the other extreme, Universities in India are out of touch of indigenous thought and engaged in mimicry of the West.  Genuine ashrams in India which represent the tenor of age-old discourses, techniques and knowledge embodiments are neither funded by the State nor by corporations nor by universities.  These ashrams and their living practitioners live and die on a daily basis without much ado.  So who is to protect such time-tested critical knowledge-bases?

Malhotra isn't advocating cessation of dialog or collaborations.  he is merely stating motivations and intentions in Western Scholarship and collaborations and demonstrating that with real data. Nothing should stop Claremont Lincoln University from pursuing what they do.  Cross-fertilization is between equals.  Dharma has a long way to go until it gains as stature equal to the West.  Until then, it will only be a good 'subject' to study, dharma will be '˜cool'.

Reviewer Brianne is concerned about some perceived social inadequacies in India [gay taboo, dearth of female Indian voices].  This is based on a flawed logic that social problems in a country are a direct result of its religious or spiritual worldviews.  However, addressing India's social or cultural problems is not Rajiv thesis - just as there is no requirement that every study of America MUST focus on its racism and other problems.  Another implication of this stated concern is that the West either appoints itself as the solver of social problems in other countries, or has the authority to hold accountable speakers from those countries for those problems.  Do US school shootings, drug abuse, or teenage pregnancies invalidate the Principle of Liberty? The West has done a superb job of separating abhorrent practices (like slavery) from Religion or State by stating them as 'topical' problems. Why does the west get to set the agenda of what constitutes 'topics of interest' about India - is this not itself a sign of Western Universalism?

There is no denying that Rajiv Malhotra's Being Different raises questions that can make many uncomfortable.  For example:

Is a Sannyasi same as a Saint?  Is Iswara same as God?  Is itihasa same has history?  Is lack of well-chronicled linear history same as lack of definiteness of discourse or continuity and originality of thought?  Can a History of the 'Other' written by the West be considered as True History?  Does an assertion self-identity by other traditions imply cessation of dialog and cross-pollination?  Can a scholar of Jainism (regardless of nationality) be the same as a Jain?  Does a Professor of Asia Studies have the same authority to speak for Hinduism as a Hindu Sannyasi?  Is an article written by a Christian about Hinduism appearing in high school text books same as a similar article written by a Hindu?  Does a Western scientist studying the mind of Buddhist have the same authority to speak about advanced states of consciousness as the Buddhist 'subject' himself or herself?  Is the Whitehead Research Project in reality another Dharma Mining Project?  What are the criteria that must be satisfied in order for a Dharma Traditions Initiative in a US University to work in favor of those same traditions?  Who should control discourse - the perceiver or the perceived?  Some answers are clear, while others may take some time to develop.

I am surprised that the reviewer saw in Rajiv's book a '˜quest to divide the world into West and East. ...

I found the title of Brianne's review interesting.  Can the West wear any less of its Westernized spectacles than Indians any less their Indianized spectacles?  It would be an ideal world where none of us had spectacles.  The problem is that even the Indian wears Westernized Spectacles making the scales very tilted!  This is where Rajiv's work has its greatest impact.

Perhaps in the Reviewer is an earnest struggle to connect the West with a more holistic dharma world-view.  I've noticed and I do applaud the reviewer Brianne Donaldson for her active non-violent championing of animal rights such sensitivity is expected of Jains and those who claim to represent dharma traditions.  I hope comments on this website will serve to improve her dissertation." 

March 5
Interfaith dialogue and history-centrism
Surya posts:
"Readers of BD have a clear understanding of how history-centrism is an unlikely candidate in an interfaith effort.

BD makes it amply clear that history-centrism disables a religion from showing mutual respect.  Let us be clear, though.  No one is saying that followers of history-centric religions are bound to take up violence or become terrorists.  Large majority can and will show civility and political correctness but the underlying incompatibility engendered by history-centrism cannot be mitigated.

Rajiv Malhotra makes a dire pronouncement in the introduction of BD: "I regard this history-fixation as the major difference between Dharmic and Judeo-Christian paths and as a problem which can breed untold psychological, religious, and social conflicts."

Inter-faith ministers and liberal Christians are criticizing Rajiv Malhotra of unfairly painting all Judeo-Christians as being incapable of showing mutual respect.  They cite as examples some of the inter-faith efforts championed by Christians.  BD does not buy this picture of amity at face value.  BD takes a step further and challenges: If there is genuine mutual respect shown by followers of Judeo-Christian paths, it is possible only on fringes since all mainstream Christian denominations believe in the Nicene creed.  Nicene creed is tied inseparably to history and lays the foundation of exclusivity.

Unfortunately, there are reasons why Nicene creed or the essence of history-centrism in Christian dogma cannot be shed.

For example:  

Bible tells us that Jesus forgave other people's sins.  There are tremendous immoral implications associated with the idea of forgiving other people's sins.

Christian apologist C.S.Lewis took a hard look at vicarious atonement and made rather harsh observations: "You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God."   

C.S. Lewis personally resolved this moral dilemma by choosing that Jesus must be the Son of God.  Clearly, this is a choice and not a logical deduction.  Unfortunately, such a choice made on the account of history automatically negates all other religions.  

The following excerpt from "Mere Christianity" in which C. S. Lewis displays his horror at the notion of taking away the responsibility of someone else's sin (vicarious redemption):..."

March 5 
Book Review of Breaking India
Book Review of Breaking India has appeared in Swami Dayananda Saraswathi's Arsha Vidya Newsletter dated Feb 2012. You can see in the below mentioned link ...

March 5
Church role in Kudankulam protests merits wider probe
Ganesh posts:
"Sri Rajiv Malhotra's and Aravindan Neelakandan's book Breaking India mentioned in this prominent news article related to Church role in Kudankulam

The crackdown on four non-governmental organisations on the charge that they diverted foreign funds intended for social development activities to the anti-nuclear protests in Kudankulam has focussed the spotlight on the activities of church-based NGOs in southern Tamil Nadu.
On Tuesday, the Union Home Secretary announced that the bank accounts of four NGOs had been frozen after it was found that they had been diverting funds received from overseas donors to the anti-nuclear protests. Two of the cases have been registered by the CBI, and the two others by the Crime Branch of the Tamil Nadu police.
The crackdown comes barely days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh went public with the charge that US non-governmental organisations were behind the agitation, which has stalled work on the nuclear plant in power-starved Tamil Nadu...."

Rajiv Malhotra shares a link:
"4 NGOs behind N-plant stir got Rs 36 crore from abroad"

March 7

Debate on BEING DIFFERENT at Patheos.com ignites - please join
Lower down the page, please read the reviews AND THE COMMENTS IN RESPONSE. Some of the threads are very insightful. These debate show what you are likely to face when you go outside the comfort zone of a group like this, and face western chauvinism that is often well disguised as "liberal Christianity", "New Thought", "Humanism" and the like.

"Confessions of a Western Universalist" by Carl Gregg  is a good place to start. The variety of comments at its end are good responses to this scholar's defense of Christianity and his critique of BD.

Read the patronizing piece by one of the 50 most influential rabbis, titled, "The gift of difference"  and then the comment below.

The Associate Dean of Religious Life at USC gives his "Response to Being Different" and it has some good rejoinders below..."

March 7
Civilizations of the forest and desert
Please read Rajivji's new blog post at Patheos - from Chapter 4: Order and Chaos - Dharmic Forest and Judeo-Christian Desert:
A quick look at world cultures and civilizations reveals how profoundly the geography and the human response to it affected those cultures. ... Since all civilizations have tried to answer such existential questions as who we are, why we are here, what the nature of the Divine and the cosmos are etc., why are some Indian answers so markedly different from the Abrahamic ones? more>
The poster image is also available for sharing on my Facebook:

Rajiv comment: I wish to thank Raj who has worked many iterations privately with me to develop the wonderful images contrasting desert/forest which I am using in my blog. He is proving to be a solid worker with a focus on visuals and presentation of the serious ideas in an accessible manner. Please stare at the image he has done and then re-read the blog, and then read chapter 4.

March 8
Analysis of History-Centrism: blog
shivadeepa posts:
This is a landing page for ongoing research work that attempts to model History-Centric Thought Systems (HCTS), the nature of its membership and how it is likely to interact with thought systems that are not history-centric, as well as its impact on cultural diversity...

Rajiv comment: This is the kind of scholar I have hoped to discover through my writings and inspire. He has immersed himself into the history centrism thesis, then emerged with his own creative manthana based on it. He proposes novel ways
of looking at it. All the blogs listed on the right margin are the product of original hard work and worth reading. My thanks go to him.

March 9
One 'Western Universalist runs away from debate
Carl Gregg started with great confidence that he had blown my thesis apart. But the responses and comments to him were very solid. After he failed to deal with them using facts and reason, he resorted to quoting what Nussbaum wrote about me back in 2006/7 - unrelated to anything to do with BD. Then someone pointed out the rejoinders given to Nussbaum's statements (which she refuses to debate publicly), and how Gregg was being a loser by resorting to such an "amendment".

So finally, Gregg asked the web site to stop accepting any comments for his blog. Just like Vijay Prashad many years ago ran away after debating me on OutlookIndia.com (the posts are still available in the archive), Gregg has chosen to run away.

The archive of back and forth comments on his thread is extremely educational, because many westerners have similar ideas as Gregg that dont stand scrutiny. For example, they tend to say:
  1. Similar mysticism has also existed in Christianity. To which I point out that (1) those rare mystics were persecuted by the church for 2 millennia, and (2) it was recent dharma influence upon the west that led uturners to look for similar resources in western traditions, often with great exaggeration.
  2. That I am ill informed about the bible, to which I ask for specifics and then give my rejoinders. (The assumption is that most of us will either get scared and run away or turn abusive, both of which are unfortunately common responses from Hindus.)
  3. That Christianity has evolved, ironically by virtue of those theologians who have digested dharma into Christianity - Wilber, Berry, Swimme, Teilhard, Ryan, Panikkar, Bede, Keating, Teasdale....) Being a Christian Centering Prayer follower, he was unable to respond to my explanation of the history of how this got appropriated from Maharishi's TM via Bede to Teasdale to Keating. (My smoking gun is an audio recording of a talk at Maharishi Univ given by Keating himself thanking them for teaching his monks how to meditate. Likewise his citing Wilber's Integral Christianity was a great opening for a response...."

Kaajal comments:
"I'm amazed though not surprised at the sheer hubris of Carl Gregg. Just another reminder of what we are up against- the complete unwillingness of Western scholars to attribute to Hindusim and other Dharma traditions, what they have surreptitiously taken (digested) from India without any grace whatsoever to give credit where it is due. The arguments posted below Gregg's review were solid and well reasoned, and when he realized that he couldn't stand up to this knowledgeable lot, he did what bullies usually do - pulled in the other bullies,
pulled rank by announcing their titles and finally closed down the very forum where such an animated discussion was taking place!...."

March 9
Re blog "Confessions of a Western Universalist"
Sumant shares: Dear Sir/Madam, I write in to you regarding the unfair and unilateral closure of the Comments section in Carl Gregg's blog *"Confessions of a Western ...

March 10

Review of 'Being Different' authored by Shashi Tiwari
Shashi posts: "Please find attached the review ofBeing Different, authored by me which is  now published in  " Sanskrit Vimarsh" , Journal of Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, ,Deemed University, Under Ministry of Human Resource Development, New Delhi; Vol 6, year 2012 ( A special edition brought out for the 15th World Sanskrit Conference, Jan 2012, New Delhi). Reference of publication should be mentioned if referred."

March 10
Western Gurus of Non-dualism........
Mrithak posts: " ... Perhaps you are already aware of these western gurus of non-dualism as they
should perfectly fit your U-turn theory.


These people come about once a year in the town where I reside...."

Rajiv responds:
"Yes I have a whole laundry list of such persons and it keeps
growing faster than I can keep up.

The move to accuse Indian gurus went hand in hand with installing new white gurus. Some examples:
1) Yogi Amrit Desai was suddenly replaced by his all-white closest followers whom he had trusted with legal control of everything. So Kripalu Center now run by these white gurus is a new age spa. In fact, even Amrit Desai's own tapes,
books are copyright owned by Kripalu and not him.
2) Likewise after Osho died it was found that 20 Western disciples had control over the Bahamas trust that owned all the property worldwide. This includes billions of dollars worth of real estate, all intellectual property and his brand name. I will show how large this scam has been.

... I saw a line of Indian women in the 1990s in queue to touch the feet of Eckhart Tolle. At that time he was a non entity claiming the same experience as Ramana Maharishi. He used to read the Indian gurus and then started to become one." 

subra posts:
Science and Nonduality (SAND) 2012 conferences in California and Netherlands

List of sponsors includes California Inst. Of Integral Studies (of Angana Chatterji fame, apart from being a U-turner), Inst of Noetic Sciences, ... that are in listed in Rajiv ji's talk at Lady Sri Ram College [below]
(Subra: ok, this is an amazing and important 2+ hour video to watch and learn: U-turns and western appropriation and digestion of Dharmic knowledge system)

Rajiv comment:
That conference and dozens like it every year are filled with
speakers who are eminent digestors. I have little chance of getting in as speaker, because my talk would offer evidence they dont want to hear, except in such diluted form as to serve their purpose to show such critiques as false.

March 10
Swami Vivekananda on history centrism
Rajiv Malhotra shares:
"The sublimity of the law propounded by Ramayana or Bharata does not depend upon the truth of any personality like Rama or Krishna, and one can even hold that such personages never lived, and at the same time take those writings as high authorities in respect of the grand ideas which they place before mankind. Our philosophy does not depend upon any personality for its truth. Thus Krishna did not teach anything new or original to the world, nor does Ramayana profess anything which is not contained in the Scriptures. It is to be noted that Christianity cannot stand without Christ, Mohammedanism without Mohammed, and Buddhism without Buddha [This is not true of Buddhism - Rajiv], but Hinduism stands independent of any man, and for the purpose of estimating the philosophical truth contained in any Purana, we need not consider the question whether the personages treated of therein were really material men or were fictitious characters. .....Is it necessary that a demon with ten heads (Dashamukha) should have actually lived as stated in the Ramayana? It is the representation of some truth which deserves to be studied, apart from the question whether Dashamukha was a real or fictitious character. You can now depict Krishna in a still more attractive manner, and the description depends upon the sublimity of your ideal, but there stands the grand philosophy contained in the Puranas."
(Collected Works, vol. 5,204-208)"

Desh responds:
"As much as I hold Swami Vivekananda high in my esteem - I would disagree that Krishna didn't offer anything new.  As I see it, Krishna can be credited with some pathbreaking work in Spirituality:
  1. Chhandogopnishad is one of the first two of the Upanishads.  It talks of Krishna (Devaki-nandan Krishna) in the past.  It is also clear that Upanishads were a clear break in philosophical underpinning and even discourse from the Vedas (Rig, Sam and Yajur - since he talks of only these 3). ....
  2. ...
  3. ...
  4. Lastly, apart from Shiva, I am not aware of many Masters who have LIVED all the Yogas as Krishna did.  Shiva and Krishna demo'ed the entire gamut of Yogic science like hardly anyone else has before or after.  In that, they are unique.
However, Swami Vivekananda does put it right elsewhere where he says - Gita is not great because Krishna spoke it, rather Krishna is great because he gave Gita.  Very well put."

Rajiv comment: The above misses Swami Vivekananda's point. SV does not say that Krishna gave no new interpretation or teaching. New discovery or new teaching of prior reality does not make it history centric. BD explains that Newton or Einstein did not create new reality, merely discovered what was already there. The claim made for Jesus is different - his virgin birth and crucifixion create a possibility for salvation which was preciously non-existent. Krishna does not cause moksha to become possible; it was always there - thats why its called sanatana dharma. Swami Vivekananda understands history centrism. The above comment appears not to do so."

March 11 
An experiment with Western Daoists in context of BD
Dvai shares: 
"As a student of Daoism (and Taiji Chuan and Nei Gong), I participate in an on-line Daoist forum titled "The Tao Bums"). This forum has an eclectic mix of predominantly western Daoists, Buddhists, students of Tantra and Vedanta. 

The recurring common denominator is typically that of a mid-to-late 20s or early thirties Westerner who has "given up" his/her judeo-christian upbringing and latched on to Daoist practices or Buddhism or Tantra or Vedanta or Yoga (often a mixture of many). The common theme is in "Universal" spirituality and a rampant attempt at making everything "same"...eliminating the differences, under the pretext of "taking the best of all worlds and discarding the worst".

I posted a synopsis of BD with a call for seekers to read and reflect on the contents and ideas presented in the book and suggested that while the exercise might be painful for many, it would, at the end make each seeker see his/her chosen system in clearer light and help identify various "psychoses" they have inherited/internalized and unknowingly apply to the system thereof.

It has been an interesting exercise and BD has helped me aritculate what I have been struggling to express (even completely understand) for the past 10 odd years.

The reactions were as I had expected (vehement opposition to the idea of BD without the readers even having read the book). A couple of individuals were highly receptive and here are some excerpts from their posts..."

March 11
Posted comment on Brianne Davidson's Review
Surya shares: Brianne Donaldson wrote: "In concrete ways, many of these thinkers are purva paksha incarnate, living between nationalities, philosophical traditions, and...

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